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UK regenerative medicine projects get £8.5m boost

Cell Medica, Intercytex and Lonza Biologics among the companies to benefit

Research projects addressing the generic challenges in the development of cell-based therapies are among those to benefit from new UK funding for regenerative medicine.

An £8.5m package of grants will be shared by 14 projects in development by companies that include Cell Medica, Intercytex and Lonza Biologics.

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), said: “The UK is a world leader in regenerative medicine, with a strong academic science base and a supportive clinical and regulatory environment.

“For UK businesses to fulfil their potential in this field, gaining a commercially competitive edge and exploiting promising discoveries, a number of development challenges need to be overcome.  This is why we launched the Regenerative Medicine Programme, to underpin and enable the best regenerative medicine businesses in the UK and build a connected regenerative medicine community.”

The TSB will provide £5.9m of the funding while the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council will jointly provide £2.6m.

The projects will be led by: Altrika, Asymptote, Cell Medica, CellSeed Europe, Cellzome, ImmunoSolv, Intercytex, Kirkstall, Lonza Biologics, Neotherix, Orthox, Plasticell, Stabilitech and TAP Biosystems.

Ten of the collaborative projects will address generic challenges in the development of cell-based therapies, and will lead to demonstrators with commercial applicability. Four projects will engage in the development of regenerative medicine therapeutics.

The collaborative R&D projects include work that will develop:

• Stem cells treatments to repair corneal damage that can lead to blindness

• Novel stem cell manufacturing technologies

• Cell labelling and tracking technologies for quality control and monitoring in the body

• Novel 'Cell-Sheet' therapy for the treatment of heart failure.

The full Regen Med project list is available online to view and download.

Regenerative medicine is an interdisciplinary approach that spans tissue engineering, developmental and stem cell biology, gene therapy, cellular therapeutics, biomaterials, nanoscience, bioengineering and chemical biology.

It has already provided significant medical advances in areas such as skin regeneration for burns patients, and could go much further, with next-generation products aiming for cures or treatments with long-term benefits.

The news of funding came as the Prime Minister announced a range of measures to boost the UK's life sciences industry, which have been welcomed by pharma and biotech industry associations.

The new measures including setting up a £180m catalyst fund – to be managed by the TSB and the MRC – to speed-up the commercialisation of medical discoveries.

7th December 2011

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